Beer is good. And when I was trying to come up for a new blog name I thought “smooth flow” fit the bill, though, admittedly, beer was not the inspiration for the name. From a Google search I learned that smooth flow (also known as cream flow, nitrokeg, or just smooth) is the name brewers give to draught beers pressurised with a partial nitrogen gas blend (source: wikipedia). So that’s great, ’cause I enjoy a smooth, flowing brew from time to time.
Late in endurance events, when the shine’s worn off, and I’m just tryin’ to hold myself together, I often will concentrate on a word or phrase to keep me centered and motivated. So, years ago, I was in a triathlon, just dying on a hot run. I found myself dwelling on smooth. Be smooth. Flow. Flow like water. Smooth. Flow. Smooth.. Flow… Smooth flow.
Smooth is important in endurance events because in order to be smooth we must have put some forethought into how we want things to unfold. Think Ocean’s 11. We must see it before we do it. Then, when we arrive to the transition in triathlon or the aid station in an ultra-run, we move through it calm, cool, and collected. There is no dilly dallying. We’re smooth. We stay in the flow >>>
Now, flow on the other hand. Man, that’s a word. A gem. One of the most significant reads of my life came to me in graduate school, when over the course of a semester the same book popped up in three different classes. The author’s name is a mouthful, but Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience changed the way I looked at the world. Read the book sometime and you’ll connect with many things like I did, such as:
“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”
Now, as I look ahead at a fresh, new season of ultra-running, I’m reminded that a flow state of mind cannot be forced. But, I try to create the conditions for smoothflow by arriving to my key workouts ready to be patient, present, and positive. I can also use technology in creative ways to encourage flow state. Do you remember the last long effort where time just seemed to vanish, you had a strong sense of well being, felt powerful, fiercely alive? What were the conditions that encouraged that flow experience?
So a new year, a new website. I needed it. Originally, I had a personal blog, which I’ve come to despise for its lack of functionality. Then, I created a coaching site. Then, I couldn’t really find time to post on either (another monkey on my back). So, this site is an attempt at a harmonious marriage of the two. I’ll share personal accounts on events and the like, as well as more didactic posts for athletes I coach. Learning and teaching go hand in hand.
The site will serve as another tool I can direct friends and athletes to when they’re looking for a new podcast to listen to, or an interesting blog to follow, or a race to sign up for, etc. Consider it a resource. I’ve transfered all my old posts from each site into this one. Use the search feature to find something specific (maybe it’ll be there!). The blog component, of course, gives me a forum to scratch my itch for writing, even though, like racing, sometimes I take a wrong turn, or, wander around in circles, whatever the case may be. Thanks for visiting and for reading. Stay in the flow.